Saturday, January 30, 2010

Australia Day Weekend - Part 1 - Home to Three Mile Dam

Our Australia Day weekend trip was a fantastic tour through some of the NSW and Victorian High Country.  We did camp for three nights, all three nights were low cost but none were pet friendly.  The other thing that was a bit different this time was 'the road less traveled' aspect of the break.

We covered about 1000km in the four days away from home, and the vast majority of it was on unsealed road and four wheel drive tracks.  The first day out we traveled from Yass to Wee Jasper the usual was, but headed into the Brinabella Ranges and then crossed in to Kosciusko National Park.  Our starting point was the probably unfortunately named Broken Cart Trail.


Our first 'waypoint' was to be Blue Water Holes some 26km into the park.
The trail in is a 4WD recommended trail. We struck out along the trail, looking for the famous brumbies.  I  was surprised when we spotted two, close to the trail, and we stopped the car for a short while to try and get a couple of photos.  Interestingly the brumbies were extremely shy and nervous while we were stopped.  We didn't get out of the vehicle to avoid them bolting, but the kept a cautious distance.  The edged away from us, and we decided to push on.  I was surprised that I did get a couple of really good pics.

Snowy Mountain brumby

Pushing on we were keen to have a look at Blue Water  Hole and Coolamine Homestead.  Both are located on the Blue Water Hole Fire Trail, which runs off Long Plain Road.  Broken Cart Trail joins Long Plain Road and everything is well signposted.

The first stop was to be the Homestead.  Throughout the High Country there are a number of historic huts and houses.  Many have been restored and provide valuable insights into early life in the High Country.  When I was researching the trip there was a fair bit of information available about the Homestead, and one thing that had me keen to visit was the newspaper on the walls.  I had read that the paper was beginning to deteriorate, and in some places it had been covered with Perspex.

When we arrived at the Homestead I was fairly surprised that it is actually a small complex of buildings that were used to run the cattle station.  The 'ruins' of the cattle yards are also a part of the complex.  We wandered through the complex and came away from the buildings with a real respect for the High Country pioneers.

As an aside the newspaper is deteriorating, much of it is dated 1930 to 1939.  If you are keen to see it you should consider visiting the locality sooner rather than later.  I should also point out that you cannot camp in the the area of the homestead.  There are however, other campsites nearby.

The complex

Stock yards

Newspaper as wallpaper, protected by perspex

 Back in the vehicle and along the fire trail a bit further there are a number of small campgrounds - all of which had fairly new looking composting toilets.

We arrived at Blue Water Holes mid-morning as groups of campers were having morning tea and others were heading off into the limestone caves that the area is known for.  There are apparently five caves open to the public without a permit.

Rock formations at Blue Water Holes

OK - it looks 'bluer' when you are there.

We will revisit the area at some stage in the future...  The campground has a composting toilet, but is relatively small.  I didn't check for water but would suggest that it would be safer to take your own.  It also looked like a real family spot, lots of kids and teens about.

We left the campground and continued along Long Plain Road out of the park onto the Snowy Mountains Highway.  After a short run up the highway we found the turn off to Yarangobilly Caves.  This was our planned lunch stop.  We briefly called into the visitor centre and paid the $3 park use fee and set off for the thermal pool for a quick dip.  Worth the $3 - but beware 10 minute walk in 20 minute walk out.  It's a fairly big hill.

The thermal pool
There are caves in the area and some are self-guided - meaning that there is no additional cost to visit them.  That makes the $3 park use fee a bit of a bargain.

We packed the wet clothes and the remnants of lunch up and set of for the next part of the trip - a short trek from Yarrangobilly Village to Three Mile Dam camping area via Lobbs Hole.  The track was again a 4WD recommended track and a fun drive, if steep in places.

Spectacular view from the 4WD

The trail then dropped to Lobs Hole (also called Ravine) where we needed to cross the Yarrangobilly River.

Yarrangobilly River crossing

The water was clear, about knee deep - on my standard Land Rover Discovery it came to about the bottom of the doors.  We parked up and walked back to the crossing.  The water was warm and there were plenty of campers around.  The river bed was smooth rock, making it an easy crossing for most standard 4WD and even AWD vehicles.

Both gold and copper were mined in the area and the Kiandra residents apparently used to shelter in the area during winter.  There are partial ruins of the hotel near the river crossing.

Mud ruins at Lobs Hole

  We then set off again for the last part of the trip - an 800m climb back to the Link Road and the entry to the Three Mile Dam Camping area.

Three Mile Dam was built in 1882 to provide water for sluicing at the New Chum Hill gold mine.  The dam is still there as are some of the ruins.  We set up for the night and managed, in the breeze to break a part of the tent!

The campsite
Broken tent

So that was day 1 - lots of dirt driving and some frustration at the end of the day with a broken tent fitting.  We called it a night.

OK - some camping stuff...
Access:  2WD - a few not.
Toilets: Some - long drop.
Showers: No.
Water: No.
Shop: No - drive to Talbingo.
Campfires: Yes - subject to firebans.
Pets: No - Part of Kosciusko National Park
Cost: Free.

GPS:  35.88638S  148.4527E


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Australia Day Weekend - a summary

It was a camping weekend to remember...

We saw kangaroos, platypus and brumbies in the wild.

We saw ghost towns, historic huts, ruins and modern towns, including Australia's highest.

We traveled along the once mighty Snowy River, and the Deddick River.

We broke our trusty tent and had to to a mercy dash to a town to buy a new one!

During all of this we camped a couple of times and took some photos.  This weekend I shall start the tale of our adventure.  It's a bit of a campsite review as normal, but also a bit of a 'road less travelled' story.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Away this weekend

I am going camping this weekend so won't be updating the blog until I get back...

The plan is to do some 4WD-ing from our place down into the Snowy Mountains and high country in both New South Wales and Victoria.  We are not taking our dog as most of the territory we will be covering is National Park where dogs are not permitted.

Check back next week and with luck I will have had time to download some photos and update.

If you are a Facebook user, feel free to visit the ACTNSWCamping Facebook page and join - I will post on the Facebook page when the blog is updated and you will be notified by Facebook.  The link to the page is on the right.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Grabine Lakeside State Park - low cost, pet friendly, facilities

It was a while ago that we visited Grabine Lakeside.  Located on Lake Wyangala the closest township is a smallish place called Bigga.  It is reasonable close to Crookwell and about 120km or so from Goulburn.  It's also not that far from Cowra, as the crow flies, bearing in mind that Cowra is on the other side of the lake.

Lake Wyangala formed as a result of construction of Wyangala Dam.  The Dam construction commenced in 1929, and the final stages were completed in 1971.  It is located at the confluence of the Lachlan and Abercrombie  Rivers.  It's in pretty poor condition at the moment, the drought has the level down to about 6% of it's capacity.

Unlike a lot of places that we camp this one has toilets, showers, a little shop, a public telephone, BBQ areas and picnic tables.  There are also some powered campsites available, along with onsite cabins etc.

I guess if you were looking for a first camping trip this would be the go.  If you hated the tent you could stay in a cabin or onsite van.

We didn't take a lot of pics this time around...

Parked at the entry


View of the lake from nearby lookout

 And a special treat this week.

The photo below was taken somewhere in the park.  I won't say where, but it was such a treat to see the albino kangaroo.  We put the 4WD into low range and slowly moved toward the mob and took some more pictures.  I was surprised that he (or she) hadn't been shunned by the mob!

The albino kangaroo

I did take more pictures, if you want to see them contact me via comments.

OK - some camping stuff...
Access:  All 2WD - there is some dirt road on the way in.
Toilets: Yes - flushing.
Showers: Hot showers available.
Water: Yes.
Shop: Yes - fuel, ice, LPG, groceries.
Pets: Yes - Dogs on leash
Cost: Visit the website for details
GPS: -33 57.1, 149 1.36


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oura Beach Reserve - Free, Pet Friendly Camping near Wagga Wagga

During the week I had a cal from one of our relative, who asked about where to camp free down here.  He is retired and pretty well traveled, and was looking for somewhere he hadn't been.  We chatted about a couple of places on here and then he asked about a place I stayed at about Easter last year.  Last year we did head off to a place that was free, pet friendly and located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.

So to share this place with all, it is called Oura Beach Reserve.  It is located about 20 km or so north west of Wagga Wagga just outside of a little village called Oura.

We set off from Yass with some friends, their kids, a couple of dogs and a vague idea of how to get there.  I had been in contact with a chap called Derek Bullock, who owns and runs Camp Oven Cooking in Australia.  His website is very cool, and has a page with some pictures of the Reserve.  A couple of emails later I had a rough idea of where to go.

The sign indicates significant
work undertaken by the community

With 2 cars, 2 dogs and 2 kids we decided to camp away from the main camp area.

Main camping area
Mainly so as we weren't a disturbance to the other campers, and there were a couple of others.

Campers and the composting toilet
is the green structure at the right

So we set up a little ways away on the bank of the river, after having a bit of a drive along.  There is plenty of space to set up as close or as far away as you want from others.

Our campsite

A slightly different view

So where is the beach I hear you ask...
It's and Aussie bush beach
The water may flow quickly through here at times so check first, and if you are not confident - do not risk it.

There is also (apparently) fairly good fishing along the banks of the river, cod and yellowbellies to be had from the deeper holes.  Usual disclaimer about me no being a fisherman and not trying it out applies.

Also some explanations...  The photos are not the usual high quality pics from the other post.  Firstly they were taken on my iPhone - I managed to leave my camera bag behind.  Secondly at the time I didn't have any plans to start a blog so I wasn't too bothered about not having the 'proper' camera.  Those with eagle eyes will notice that the trusty Land Rover isn't in the pictures.  At the time we owned the blue Toyota Landcruiser.  I could dedicate a whole new blog to the adventures of 'Onslow' as it was named.  Perhaps I'll get to some of his adventures in here.

OK - the camping stuff...
Access:  Sealed road most of the way so 2WD is fine.
Toilets: One fairly new self-composting type toilet.
Showers: No.
Water: No - river.
Shop: No - drive to Wagga Wagga.
Campfires: Yes - subject to firebans.
Pets: Yes - No posted restrictions
Cost: Free.
GPS: -35.1215,147.542

This is definitely a good site to go to if you are toying with the idea of bush camping.  If it were to be overly crowded, nearby there are plenty of Traveling Stock Routes that you could set yourself up on as well.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A bit of fun

Have been having a bit of a surf around the www world of camping and have come across a couple of links that I thought would be worthwhile sharing.

I'm all for camping - apparently this lady is not - visit her blog

Or this lady - visit her

Have a look - what do you think - there is a comment section below - share your comments with us.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Blowering Dam - free pet friendly camping


Another non camp, but rather a bit of a drive and 4WD towards the end!  We have wanted to have a look at Blowering Dam for a while now, since it is free and pet friendly.

Bago State Forest is the home of Blowering Dam, located on the Tumut River and is a part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.  It was completed in 1968 and holds 1,628,000 megalitres (million litres) when at capacity.  It's water used for irrigation, and in 1978 it was used to set a water speed record!

There are a couple of ways in so we decided to go in via Batlow.  Balow is famous for apples - producing about 10% of the apples we eat in Australia !  From Batlow we continued into the Forest.  The road is a typical, well maintained dirt and gravel logging road.  Some of the views are worth stopping for in the passing bays.

The view from the road in
(Click to enlarge)

After descending into the valley we found Foreshore Road, and  went for a drive along it to have a look at the campsites and the facilities.

One thing is there is plenty of room and no defined sites - its freestyle bush camping.  Find a spot and set yourself up.

Plenty of waterside camping

Or room for a picnic...

Picnic rug and the dog!

And despite it being New Years Eve when we were there, it wasn't all that busy...

Free lakeside camping
There is easier access to the lake from the Snowy Mountains Highway, but it was a bit more crowded!

Bit blurry but you get the idea

If you head down this way for some camping there is plenty to do...  We went 4WD exploring along the fire trails and power lines on our way out of the forest to Talbingo.  The Hume and Hovell Walking Track runs through the area, so you could walk part of that.  You can mountain bike or trail bike ride.  There was a camper there with some horses so you could do that too.  I'm not sure how good the fishing is but there were folks fishing, and even waterskiing.

Someone skiing on the lake
And my favorite...
Spotting wildlife.

Magnificent goanna

OK - some camping stuff...
Access:  Most campsites are 2WD - a few not.
Toilets: Some - long drop.
Showers: No.
Water: No.
Shop: No - drive to Talbingo or Batlow.
Campfires: Yes - subject to firebans.
Pets: Yes - No posted restrictions
Cost: Free.

One thing to note though - when camping in this Forest, generators and trail bikes are permitted.  It won't be silent!

And if you do head in looking for some peace and quiet please stick to formed roads/tracks/trails.  We did and had a blast - continuing around the lake on Foreshore Drive we followed the navigator and instinct to Talbingo.  We wandered off the main track and followed the power line trail.  Great fun - and all without locking into 4WD.

We did explore some campsites on the Talbingo side of the lake but rain prevented us from taking pics, but we did briefly lock into 4WD to get out.

We did a bit of a 'speed run' down the highway to Gundagai for dinner on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.

Where we had dinner.
Hard to believe this is about 500m from the Hume Highway

From there we continued back up the Hume Highway to home - a 450km day - fantastic 4WD fun and we found another great free pet friendly camping location.